Recovering from the Coffee Crisis with Sustainable Tourism in Oaxaca, Mexico
How two childhood friends are supporting the recovery from the coffee crisis in Oaxaca, Mexico
By: Hotel Casa Divina
When Jorge was young and his dad took care of the finca it was a good time for coffee production in Mexico; the International Coffee Agreement that had been created in 1962 ensured that prices were kept high and stable. Life on the fincas of Pluma Hidalgo at this time was good; there was work, and the families who lived and farmed the land could earn a good wage managing the land and picking the coffee berries by hand. All of this changed in 1989 with the dismantling of the International Coffee Agreement, leading eventually to mass overproduction to meet the demands of major conglomerates. This resulted in a huge surplus of beans, and as a result the price of coffee plummeted. Around the millennium the coffee crisis intensified, with many workers leaving the fincas to try and find work elsewhere, often illegally travelling north to the USA to try to support their families.
During this time Jorge himself was actually living in the USA, having been asked to move to New York for his work as a voice actor, aware of the crisis whilst simultaneously seeing the exponential rise of high street coffee shops all around him. Jorge kept an eye on things from the States, but ultimately had built his own life there, unable to provide any great help with the family business at that time.
It was only as his children were getting older and he was starting to think more about sustainability and his community in Oaxaca that Jorge started to feel the need to return home, and he started to think more about taking on the family coffee farm. Around the same time, a business opportunity presented itself following a talk with Jorge's childhood friend Ernesto Suárez Linares, owner of the Casa Divina Boutique Hotel and Villas in Oaxaca city. Ernesto's aims for the business have always been to provide the highest quality home from home for guests, whilst ensuring the hotel and villas supported the local economy and community. The hotel were looking to expand their dining and bar experience and Jorge came on board at this time to help navigate this new direction. The result is the beautiful La Llorona Restaurante and Terrace Bar, which overlooks the city with a view to Oaxaca's famous Guelegetza stage.
Today Jorge's family coffee has the perfect showcase, being served in La Llorona to guests and visitors alike. Jorge has taught himself how to roast the beans to produce the best quality cup of coffee, and the beautiful setting of the restaurant and terrace bar allow guests to support the revival and reclaiming of the coffee industry by the cooperatives of Pluma Hidalgo, whilst soaking up the sun and also enjoying the delicious, organic, sustainable food that La Llorona offers.
"We have a responsibility and the capacity to support the local ecology and economy", Ernesto Suárez Linares said, "whilst of course simultaneously providing the highest quality experience for our guests."
For Jorge and Ernesto the benefits are clear; they are supporting their beloved Oaxaca community, and guests are getting the finest quality produce to fuel their day, which keeps them coming back for more. What they have also found is that people have a genuine interest in the coffee process, and are increasingly aware of the need to support the industry. Interest has been so strong that Casa Divina have now started to provide trips to Pluma Hidalgo for people to see firsthand the lush mountainous area that produces this delicious coffee. For old friends Jorge and Ernesto this is the cherry on the (coffee) cake - being able to share even more of the beautiful state of Oaxaca with the world. Now, who wants a cup of coffee?
Casa Divina Hotel in Centro, Oaxaca is committed to supporting the local ecology and economy through all of their practices. The hotel offers visitors a genuine experience of local culture in Oaxaca City and the surrounding state. Visit: http://www.casadivinaoaxaca.com
Page Updated Last on: Apr 26, 2019